Unless you’re on Team Bughead — my apologies — it’s been a great year for Riverdale fans. The long-anticipated prom and graduation episodes finally aired, and shortly after we caught up with Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and the rest of the gang post-time jump, the CW announced that Riverdale season 6 was imminent. But in less-than-great news, we're getting an unusually long hiatus before Riverdale season 5 comes back.
Riverdale’s seasons usually follow the same schedule: an October premiere, a May finale, and a month-long hiatus sometime around December and January. If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t shut down production, season 5 might have followed the same pattern, but the cast wasn’t able to start filming until September, and production was briefly stalled again in October.
As a result, the season kicked off in January, and unfortunately, we’re getting a much longer hiatus. After March 31’s midseason finale, the new action-adventure series Kung Fu will take over Riverdale’s Wednesday slot on the CW. Season 5 will pick up again on July 7 with nine more episodes, including writer Ted Sullivan’s favorite of the season.
Seven years into the future, Riverdale is still Riverdale. But with a clean slate, there are many places the show can go from here, and we’ve already started to see the ways Archie (KJ Apa), Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), and everyone else has grown up after their college years. Betty is working for the FBI; Jughead and newcomer Tabitha Tate (Erinn Westbrook) are investigating a new mystery. We’ve also already gotten much more of Toni (Vanessa Morgan) and Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner). With so much future potential, it isn't surprising the show was renewed just weeks after season 5 premiered.
Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Tonight that the time jump offered an opportunity to “freshen everything up” and take the drama in a new direction. “The idea was that it would sort of be a creative boost for the writers, a creative boost for the actors, and after four years of very gonzo, intricate, incestuous plotting, it was like, ‘Oh!,’” he said. “Well, we can just drop everyone into new storylines that feel organic to the characters, but allow us to feel like we can move a little more nimbly. Without the burden of, you know, Bughead dating or the burden of Archie still wrestling with the immediate death of his father.”
In an attempt to soften the blow of the three-month wait, perhaps, Sullivan said that the upcoming midseason finale is “a helluva episode.” In other words, we’re getting a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers, but this is Riverdale we're talking about. Did you expect anything less?